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SLIP INTO DEVITA'S MOODY WORLD OF 'AMERICAN GOTHIC'

5 MIN READ


Cover of DeVita's 'American Gothic'
'American Gothic' cover/source: Genius

Almost two years since her AOMG debut, DeVita shows that she is in her element more than ever with the intensely moody 'American Gothic'. Released on February 15th, the sophomore EP proves to be a superb follow up to 2020's 'CRÈME', and delves into complex themes surrounding love, identity, and pain. Although the 23-year-old may be better known in the mainstream for lending her vocals to songs by the likes of YUGYEOM, CODE KUNST, and Woo, the release proves that the singer can stand tall on her own. From its exploration of darker narratives to its refined vocals and pensive lyrics, 'American Gothic' is an EP that is sure to make any listener remember the name DeVita.


Spanning over 7 tracks, the EP is one that finds its strength in its storytelling as DeVita draws a parallel between Americana influences and the struggles that she faces. The EP's title is a nod to Grant Wood's iconic painting, 'American Gothic' which features a woman looking at a man while he looks away. It's a subtle reference but it masterfully sets the stage for what is to come on the EP; wanting someone who does not care for you. However, being a concept EP, much of the inspiration for 'American Gothic' stems from the 1990s cult-classic film 'American Beauty'. Its themes of toxic love, self-identity, and detachment manifest themselves in various aspects of the EP from its artwork, lyrics, music videos, and in more obvious forms with song titles.



"I can't stand that I'm the last thing on your mind" are the raw and sombre lyrics that open up the EP, creating a gloomy vibe. Much like Lester, the main character of the film, DeVita found herself in the midst of a crisis -or as she termed during her Twitter BlueRoom Live, a "quarter-life crisis"- when the album was written. She stated that she "had everything" yet was "not happy". This period of distress is clearly conveyed throughout as DeVita carries listeners through the different phases of her emotions: from falling helplessly for someone to dealing with one-sided love, to hurt and ultimately moving on. Her emotive vocalisation and melodies consisting mainly of cold synths, minimal guitar riffs, and complex harmonies only add to the listener's ability to empathize with her as she relays her story.


The release sees expansive production work that perfectly syncs with DeVita's emotional states during the different stages of her journey. In her exploration of toxic love and hurt on songs like the title track 'Bonnie & Clyde' and 'Eat Your Heart Out, Buddy Kane!', oscillating synths, sustained minor chords and orchestral elements like violins build up the intensity. Coupled with lyrics such as, "Boy, you'll be the death of me, and I like it", the tension that is packed into these songs highlight the complex feelings one faces when desiring someone to the point where it is detrimental to themselves. 'Eat Your Heart Out, Buddy Kane!' takes things one step further with its melodies to capitalise upon these feelings. At its midpoint, a soft drumline creeps in, churning out a rudimentary tune as the singer harmonises in the background. The sounds meld together to gradually create a crescendo before rapidly dying down. It feels like a cathartic release of pent up frustration due to DeVita's unsatisfactory situation with a lover who treats her poorly.



At her lowest points on the EP, where she experiences pain and even numbness, the melodies simmer down. The stripped-back song 'Superstar' showcases this. A warm guitar and muted bass play steadily in the background while DeVita produces soft vocals in a rich timbre as she reflects on her lover moving on to someone new. Even when a compressed lead guitar slides in, it leaves enough room for the singer's voice to be the main focal point. Her layered harmonies blend smoothly into the track, creating a distant and haunting effect that exudes her sentiments of numbness. In a similar vein, the CODE KUNST produced 'Let u in - DeVita Solo Version' feels very bare despite its use of jazz chords and vocal samples. DeVita's voice takes centre stage again as she croons out sweet melodies, almost reminiscent of Alicia Keys, that capture an essence of hurt. Though it isn't one of the more exciting tracks on the EP, it gives off an early 2000s R&B vibe and is laden with contemplation.


DeVita insists that she does not want to be confined as an artist or to the genre of R&B, and her experimentation with different styles and techniques on the EP shows her willingness to push boundaries. She flirts with a bit of rapping on the song 'Cheese in The Trap' on which she manages to secure her first feature ever from none other than Jay Park. Although she isn't spitting out hard-hitting bars, her relaxed rap style comes as a welcome change in the pace of the album and keeps things interesting for the listeners. Jay Park's rapping also matches perfectly with hers and, coupled with his ad-libs, helps add more depth to the track. On 'Pine' DeVita seems to briefly channel Frank Ocean -someone who she has previously cited as an inspiration- as Wurlitzer-like pianos and an overflow of reverb mesh together to create a hypnotic sound. The singer develops this inspiration further as she seamlessly switches from lower notes to a pore-raising falsetto, demonstrating exceptional control of her voice. Both tracks feel very new coming from the singer and shows that she has the ability to break out of a strictly R&B style.



Despite the pains of love that she faces, DeVita also shows glimpses of her maturity and an understanding of her self-worth. Even in her situation, she does not allow herself to be so consumed by her feelings to the point where she forgets herself. Lyrics like "Pity party's for the weak, and I ain’t no pussy boy" and "Bad bitches do what they got to do" give hints of her ultimate understanding of her worth. Although she may not be healed, she has not completely lost herself. This can prove to be especially inspiring to female listeners who see DeVita flaunt her strength and femininity.



'American Gothic' is well-crafted and represents a major stepping stone in DeVita's career. It sees some of her best vocals and production to date. Moreover, her ability to create a sentimental narrative should be praised as she makes the listener feel as though they are right with her, living through the experience. Using the concept of 'American Beauty' also helps strengthen her work and aids in her creation of unique scenarios. Although there may be a few dull moments, DeVita shows execptional growth in terms of her talent and her eagerness to break boundaries.


Rating - 9/10



- Anais Khan-George


Sources: [1], [2], [3]





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